As expected, Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun skated early Wednesday morning at Consol Energy Center.
Vokoun has not played this season after he had a procedure to dissolve a pelvic blood clot in September. He recently was allowed by doctors to discontinue blood-thinners, and Wednesday was his first time back on the ice.
He skated in full gear except for his mask under the guidance of team goaltending coach Mike Bales, doing side-to-side drills and other maneuvers in and out of the net.
“He’s out there kind of motoring around without any shots or anything,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “Hopefully, soon enough, his blood levels will return to normal and he can move on to taking some shots.”
Toews OK with Captain Crosby
Before he accepted the captaincy for Team Canada for the upcoming Sochi Olympics, Penguins center Sidney Crosby asked the Canadian coaching staff to check with Chicago captain Jonathan Toews to ensure that Toews — who has won two Stanley Cup titles with the Blackhawks, compared with the one Crosby has won — had no qualms about the choice.
“Sidney Crosby wanted to make sure it was OK with him, just for the fact that he had won a couple Cups,” Team Canada and Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Sidney asking the other guys for their approval, I don’t think he needed to do that, but that just shows what kind of guy he is,” Toews said.
“He’s obviously a great captain in Pittsburgh.”
Toews will serve as an alternate captain.
A clear home-ice preference
Count defenseman Brooks Orpik among those who was glad the game Wednesday night against the Canadiens was at Consol Energy Center and not at Bell Centre in Montreal.
“I think we’ve played a lot better at home against them,” Orpik said. “That building’s pretty tough to play in. If you get the lead there vs. giving up the lead there, it’s two completely different animals.
“[The fans] really get into it, and it gets really loud.
“For younger guys, it can be pretty rattling. If a goalie or someone makes a mistake, they chant your name. It’s a different type of crowd. If you get the lead there first, they can turn on their own guys, too, which makes it tough on them.”
Orpik was asked how fans at Consol Energy Center compare.
“We’ve heard [displeasure] here and there,” he said. “Definitely not as much as you will in a Canadian market. It’s a different type of fan.
“We’ve always had tremendous support here, even when I started when we had some pretty bad years. That’s continued in the new building here. That can only help you. When your own fans are booing you, you might deserve it and they might think they’re doing something beneficial for you, but nobody likes to hear it and usually it’s counterproductive.”
Jokinen feels right at home
Before Wednesday, winger Jussi Jokinen had scored nine of his 13 goals this season at home. Since he joined the Penguins in April, he had scored 12 goals in 31 games at Consol Energy Center.
Jokinen knows why, too.
“My first game in this building I had two goals, two assists when I played with the [Carolina] Hurricanes,” he said of the Nov. 19, 2010 game in which the Penguins beat his team, 5-4, in a shootout. “If you start like that, you’re going to like the building. It also helps that we play so well at home.”
Therrien on Fleury
Montreal coach Michael Therrien was coaching the Penguins when goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was still developing. Therrien has kept track of Fleury, who entered the game with an NHL-best 27 wins.
“He’s having a great season,” Therrien said. “Could have been named to the [Canadian] Olympic team with the way that he’s performed this year. I’m sure he’s disappointed, but he’s got that type of season that he certainly could have had a chance.”
Bylsma on Brooks …
As coach of the Americans for the Sochi Olympics, Bylsma is part of a line of succession that goes back to Herb Brooks, coach of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team that won Olympic gold. Bylsma never met Brooks and never was involved in the same game as the late coach, but …
“I considered trying to get a similar sport coat to the one he wore in 1980 to wear in this Olympics as kind of my Herb Brooks imitation,” Bylsma said.
Shelly Anderson: email@example.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly.